It was so easy to buy my kids toys when they were younger, but when they became middle schoolers I had no idea what they wanted!
Well, I did know they wanted tech, but wasn’t there other kinds of toys and gifts that middle schoolers would love?
So we did a ton of research.
I found gifts to encourage creativity, learning, self-discovery, reading, healthy eating, parent-child connection, and outdoor play.
And the best part?
All these are from Amazon, they all have a 4+ rating from tons of reviews and most are available through free 2-day prime shipping, so even if you are shopping at the very last minute, you might still be able to get them in time!
Editor’s Note: Also check out our other guides
Alright, here we go –
Gifts the Encourage Creativity
This can be both an art and STEM creation; you can color the coaster parts before assembly to make a truly wild marble run, and it’s basically a 3d puzzle that you can use after putting it together. No glue or screws needed!
Here’s a bluetooth microphone with vocal and music volume controls, a recording function (with SD card!), rechargeable battery and lights! It can also double as a bluetooth speaker. Let your young stars rock out with this!
This art set really is deluxe. It has oil pastels, water color bricks, colored pencils, paint brushes and drawing pencils. Plus it comes in a large case to keep it all organized when it take it along with you.
Model building kits are wonderful for kids who have trouble accessing their more creative side. They take actual things – cars, airplanes, ships, etc – and the kids get to build them and paint them. It’s very satisfying and self-esteem building to make something out of a smattering of parts in a box.
Youtube videos are a unique way for kids to explore their creativity. They can write their own scripts for movies, make an informational video (like Crash Course), or put together an instructional video (like any of the knitting or cooking videos out there). Making these videos can be extremely empowering and really boost their self-confidence.
Light-up gloves are tons of fun for teens. They can experiment with them in the dark, use them as movie props, or make fun patterns at a school dance. Plus they can be used when they are walking home from school during the darker times of the year, making sure your teen is seen by passing cars.
We made tie dyed t-shirts during our yearly visit to summer camp. I was always disappointed when I ran out of t-shirts to dye. It was so much fun to pick out the different colors and twisting patterns I didn’t want to stop. This kit comes with 18 different colors and a guide with 8 different patterns to choose from.
If your teen loved to draw when they were little this is the book for them. It gives specific techniques and tips on how to make their drawings more accurate and life-like. This knowledge can stop them from getting discouraged and giving up drawing.
We have magnetic poetry on our fridge. It is so much fun to piece together poems and ideas and it’s even more fun to see what your children write. These magnets are a great catalyst for your child’s creativity.
Teens still like to color, but they don’t like the same coloring books that their younger siblings are into. Paw Patrol isn’t going to do it for a thirteen year old. This is why I was so happy the adult coloring craze hit. The pictures are so much more intricate and the complexity is appealing to older kids.
You might think all colored pencils are the same, but you would be wrong. Montessori schools everywhere recommend Prismacolor because the leads are softer allowing their work to appear more vibrant and the flow of the pencil on the paper to be more fluid. These are so nice to use they will definitely inspire your child’s creativity.
These are amazing. Oil-based paint in an easy-to-use pen form. You can use it to paint anywhere and on anything. Your teen can decorate their binder or backpack or even make a personalize gift for a friend or teacher.
Embroidery is another great way for your child to express their creativity. Embroidering allows them to make pictures out of thread and cloth. It can be taken along anywhere. Plus it helps them to further develop their fine motor control and mental focus.
If embroidery seems a bit daunting, think about getting your child a cross stitch kit. It appeals to those kids who need at little more structure and guidance with their creativity, as well as to those children who want to create intricate pictures.
This creativity box highlights the art in hammering and nailing. Kids can put in nails in a pattern and then run string around the nails to create pictures. Once they learn the basics they can use materials they find in the garage to design and create their own string art!
This is like two gifts in one. Your child will create their own yarn tree and then use it to organize their jewelry. It is simple to create, which leave your child feeling successful and empowered.
Tweens and teens crave self-expression. They also crave making their rooms a reflection of who they are and what they want to become. This poster kit not only does all of that, it also provides them with a daily inspiration to go out and be the best person they can be. I kind of wish I had this when I was 12.
I love this journaling set because it is set up to help your child learn how to bullet journal. (If you don’t know what that is, check out this youtube video.) Everyone has different organizational and journaling needs. This one has a bunch of other stuff in it – like washi tape, stamps, and stickers – to empower them to express their creativity in more ways than just getting words on the page. Perfect for your reluctant writer.
Scrapbooks are so cute! They are even cuter when you flip through them after a few years. This scrapbook gives them everything they need to preserve what is important to them now and what will become precious memories later.
This kit isn’t just frames for your child’s pictures. It’s also a watercolor kit so they can create the art they hang on their walls. Or you can hang it in the living room for all your friends and family to enjoy!
It’s creative science! This kit comes with shea butter, coconut butter, and essential oils and everything else your kids need to make their own lip balm. They can make it for themselves or they can make it as a gift for their friend.
More creative science! And this kit makes these bath bombs so easy to make. The essential oils are 100% pure and it comes all the ingredients necessary. Once they have made a few of these they’ll feel more empowered to try other science kits.
These temporary tattoos are so glam! They are metal and jewel tones – definitely more grown-up looking that the cartoon images every preschooler loves to wear. And since they are temporary your kids can have multiple opportunities for self-expression.
These aren’t little kid dollhouse kits. These are very detailed and ornate. The kit includes objects that attract more mature tweens and teens who want to create a more realistic dollhouse. There are several other rooms you can buy, too.
Gifts that Encourage Learning
Here’s a fun STEM, one-person logic game with 60 different challenges. It’s critical thinking, engineering and planning skills all rolled into one fun game.
Legos aren’t just for little kids. For our tweens and teens there is Lego Technic. This set guides your child through building a one-person helicopter, but there are so many more! My oldest son has the car that you can pull back and let it run forward.
This is a legit robot. It has sensors in it to help it perform tasks like obstacle avoidance and line-follow. It is easy to build and can be controlled by remote or smartphones. Plus you can code, for real, on the mBlockly App which is a great beginning coding platform.